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Mainstreaming the Sex Industry: Economic Inclusion and Social Ambivalence

NCJ Number
Journal of Law and Society Volume: 37 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2010 Pages: 40-60
Barbara G. Brents; Teela Sanders
Date Published
March 2010
21 pages
This article examines the economic mainstreaming of sexual consumption.
This article seeks to analyze the expansion of commercial sex through processes of mainstreaming in economic and social institutions. It argues that cultural changes and neo-liberal policies and attitudes have enabled economic mainstreaming, whilst social ambivalence continues to provide the backdrop to a prolific and profitable global industry. It charts the advancement of sexual consumption and sexual service provision in late capitalism before defining the concept of 'mainstreaming' applied here. Case studies of Las Vegas and Leeds are used to identify various social and economic dimensions to the mainstreaming process and the ways these play out in law and regulation. While social and economic processes have integrated sexual services into nighttime commerce, remaining social ambivalence fuels transgression and marginalization of the industry which in fact assists the mainstreaming process. Finally, some implications are projected for gender relations, work, and inequalities as a result of the integration of sexual services into the economy. (Published Abstract)


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